Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Oct. 9, 2000

Winsted woman featured in national magazine Country Woman

By Lynda Jensen

Readers who page through the magazine Country Woman will find a familiar face on Page 7: Colleen Carlson of Winsted.

Carlson is featured in a full page, full color story in the Septem-ber/October issue, which is about her family's business, Carlson's Orchard, northwest of Winsted. She operates the combination orchard, restaurant, and bakery with her husband, Joe, and their two sons, Nick, 15, and Noah, 13.

The magazine chose her after receiving tips from their readers. There are 1.8 million subscribers to Country Woman.

Colleen was contacted in the fall of 1998 for the interview.

"Some people said it was about time that someone from Minnesota was featured," Colleen commented. The feedback has been tremendous, Colleen said. In fact, one couple from Michigan even asked her for her autograph.

One of her recipes for apple puff pancakes is also featured in the article. "I love to cook," she said. Colleen does all of the cooking, baking and salad making at Carlson's Orchard. She holds a degree in Horticulture at the University of Minnesota.

Carlson's Orchard is located where Joe's dad, the late Herb Carlson, operated a field crop business.

Joe conceived of the idea to have an apple orchard while travelling in Washington state. The Carlsons chose a number of cold, hardy apple tree varieties from the University of Minnesota's Horticulture Research Center, which is located 30 miles from the orchard.

Most of the trees at the orchard were planted between 1985-88. Later, Joe and Colleen purchased the farm from Joe's mother, Madeline (Herb died in 1982).

The orchard has 12 acres of trees that produce fruit as early as mid-August (the State Fair variety) and as late as the end of October (Keepsake). The Carlsons also have one acre of pumpkins and one-third acre of "u-pick" raspberries.

The modern day barn-style restaurant originally started out as a hog barn, but was converted to its modern day structure in 1994 - adhering to commercial building and health codes.

Recently the Carlsons launched a line of frozen pies so that their treats can be enjoyed year-round, Colleen said.

Pies, crafts, honey, jams, and butter are available at the orchard. The Carlsons also offer apple cider, hay rides, and caramel-covered apples.

Right now, the Carlsons are in the middle of their "100-plus day marathon" since they are open only from August through Thanksgiving Day.

During this time, they employ 40 full and part-time employees. Their hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.

They close Thanksgiving Day.

The business has earned loyal customers that are the reason the Carlsons stay in the business, Colleen said.

"Visiting with the customer is my favorite job," she said.

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